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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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9.9. Evaluating Your Site with Metrics

Problem

You need to determine the effectiveness of your site by tracking the pages visitors look at, the number of pages they view each visit, and the last pages they look at before leaving your site.

Solution

Enable any tools your web host provides for distilling your server's raw logfiles into meaningful reports or set up your own offline log analysis tool to generate detailed reports about how visitors use your site.

The key metrics to track are:

Page views

How many pages does the average visitor look at on my site?

Referrers

Who is sending traffic to my site?

Entry pages

What pages are most people seeing first?

Exit pages

What are the last pages visitors see before leaving your site?

Discussion

In the early days of the Web, anyone with even a passing interest in a web site would boast gleefully about the number of "hits" it got. Phrases like "10,000 hits a day" or "a million hits a month" became the lingua franca of dot-com pioneers.

Web site hits, as you may already know, are a highly suspect measure of a web site's popularity, not to mention its effectiveness. Consider two of the most popular web sites: craigslist and Amazon.com. Since each downloaded element of the two sites' home pages is counted as a hit, Amazon's graphics-rich design wallops the Spartan craigslist on the hit parade 55 to 2. Does Amazon.com have more than 27 times the traffic of craigslist? Probably not, but looking only at hits would lead one to believe that it does.

Page views and ...

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